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Byron Shire
November 29, 2022

Candidate spends cold night out in Ballina

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Greens candidate for Ballina Tamara Smith sleeping rough last night. (Pic supplied)
Greens candidate for Ballina Tamara Smith sleeping rough last night. (Pic supplied)

Greens candidate for Ballina Tamara Smith spent the night sleeping rough in Ballina last night, but she was not alone.

It has been estimated there are more than 1,380 homeless people across northern New South Wales, and the figure is growing.

Ms Smith spent the night in Fawcett Park to highlight those numbers, and to gain support for local homelessness support services.

‘It was a chilly 8 degrees by 9pm, but we had a steady flow of people drop by for our BBQ fundraiser to talk about how we can better look after vulnerable people in our community,’ she said.

‘I really feel for people who have no option but to sleep rough every night.’

‘We often think that homelessness is a city issue, but the reality is that there are many people sleeping rough in Ballina this winter.’

According to the Northern Rivers Regional Social Profile, there are over 1,380 homeless people across Northern NSW and that figure is growing.

‘Many people sleeping rough or experiencing homelessness turn to organisations like Ballina District Community Service Association, The Hot Meal Centre in Cherry St and Ballina Mental Health Inc for help’, Ms Smith said.

Ms Smith accused the National Party of forgetting homeless people in the community, pointing out reports that the Lismore Women’s Refuge faced closure because of state government funding cuts resulting from a revised tender process.

Lismore MP Thomas George told Echonetdaily last month however that the refuge was ‘definitely not closing’ and that negotiations were underway to secure premises.

A NSW Department of Community Services spokesperson also said there would be no loss of homelessness services, especially for Aboriginal women escaping domestic and family violence.

‘Across NSW, no government owned property that is used for crisis and transitional accommodation will close as a result of the Going Home Staying Home reforms,’ the spokesperson said.

He said the northern NSW district would receive $6.53 million per annum under the Going Home Staying Home reforms, a funding increase of $1.03 million or 19 per cent.

People needing help because they are homeless or at risk of homelessness, or those who are worried about someone they know becoming homeless can call the new 24 hour Link2home referral service on 1800 152 152.

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